After reading all that science fiction last week in order to
vote for the Hugos, I was ready for a change of pace. I picked
Pride and Prejudice (free online
version) because one of the novelettes (Pride
and Prometheus, by John Kessel)
uses characters from it, and I wanted to confirm my impression
that it directly contradicted what Jane Austen said.
The novelette continues the history of Mary and Kitty, the two
sisters who remain unmarried at the end of Pride and
Prejudice. Jane Austen says about them:
Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her
time with her two elder sisters. In society so superior to
what she had generally known, her improvement was great. She
was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia; and, removed from
the influence of Lydia’s example, she became, by proper
attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and
less insipid. From the further disadvantage of Lydia’s society
she was of course carefully kept, and though Mrs. Wickham
frequently invited her to come and stay with her, with the
promise of balls and young men, her father would never consent
to her going.
Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was
necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by
Mrs. Bennet’s being quite unable to sit alone. Mary was
obliged to mix more with the world, but she could still
moralize over every morning visit; and as she was no longer
mortified by comparisons between her sisters’ beauty and her
own, it was suspected by her father that she submitted to
the change without much reluctance.
In the novelette, Mary and Kitty are both living with their
parents; Mrs. Bennet has given up on Mary, but is still working
hard to marry off Kitty. Mr. Kessel does pick up, as I had not,
on Kitty coughing and being generally more delicate than her
sisters. But certainly Jane Austen did not envision an affair
with a butcher’s son.
But it is interesting to note that Victor Frankenstein is a
contemporary of the Bennet sisters, and to envision Mary having
a crush on him.